Monday, January 23, 2012

#43 - Running Toward A Better Life

Yesterday was a big day for me.

I ran my first 5K.

For some, that is not that big of a deal.  You put on some running shoes, lace them up, and go out and jog 3.1 miles, yada, yada, yada.  It might burn a little.  You might get short of breath.  You might get sore.

That's what it was like for me too...

That, plus a million other things.

Where do I begin?

Until recently, I had not run in almost 2 decades.  In high school I was a sprinter.  And I think I was a pretty good one.  I loved the feel of waiting for a race, getting into the blocks, hearing my heartbeat pound in my ears, then running with everything I had for about 15 seconds.  Seriously, I LOVED that!  But distance running... now, that was a different story!  My basketball coach required everyone on the team to run cross country in the off season, and I hated every single solitary moment of it.  It just wasn't my thing.  As soon as I ran that last season of cross country in high school, I was done!  I have exercised here and there over the years, but never ever have I run.

Until a few months ago.

But, I better not get ahead of myself...

Since I have been an adult, I have struggled with my weight.  Never in my life have I been a waif, but even remaining at an "average" size has been hard for me in the last several years.  I have worked hard at losing weight several times.... then, for whatever reason, I lose motivation and gain it all back - plus more, usually.  Stereotypical, I know.

I have never felt like I was a good size.  Not even during those high school days... Not even in the days that I worked myself silly on a diet.  Never.  I didn't obsess about that, but I was definitely frustrated by it. And when I am frustrated, especially for years on end, I sometimes give up.  And that is exactly what I did.

I knew that I could no longer try to be a certain shape to please someone.  I just didn't have it in me anymore.  Life had gotten hard.  I had gotten resentful.  Something had to give.  And that something was me.  I had tried for years to manipulate my appearance to gain acceptance.  From others.  From myself.  It never worked.  No matter what size I was, I didn't get the acceptance that I was searching for.  And when I did get affirmation, I resented it because I knew that it was based on my outward appearance and not a love for the person that I truly am.  I was being unfair.  To myself.  To those that love me.  I was looking to someone else to meet a need in me that no one on earth was made to fill.  Not even myself.  The only place that I was created to get complete fulfillment was from the Lord.  I didn't make a conscious decision to look for fulfillment in other people, but that is what was happening... and I was frustrated, felt out of control, and was depressed.  Not a healthy combination.

So, for a few years I just quit.  I gave up.  I sabotaged myself.  I tried to fill myself with things that would make me feel good.  Things that would take away the pain.  Sometimes that was food.  Sometimes that was being sedentary.  Sometimes that was completely blocking out the reality that I had to be responsible with the body that I was given to take care of... even when I was overwhelmed.  Even when life was hard.

I knew that changing my habits would be hard.  I knew that doing it "for me" was not enough.  I am a selfish person in many ways, but doing things like exercise "for me" has just never jived with me.  I have always believed that doing things for my family was more important than doing things for myself.  I don't buy into that way of thinking... the "You have to take care of you first." kind of stuff.  And I knew that doing it for anyone else wouldn't work either.  If I did what it would take to lose weight, eat a certain way, gain a certain figure, or run a certain race and people were still unimpressed with me I knew that I would be devastated.  And if I succeeded at all of those things and people loved me more because of the way that I looked or ate or exercised I knew that I would be devastated by that as well.  So I couldn't do that... I couldn't make a change for someone else or even for myself.

So then, who could I do it for?
What reason was big enough for me?

I had to come to the realization that I had been using food and even my weight.  It was an idol in my life.  Something that I had given more importance to than God.  And what was worse, in many ways, I was my own idol.  I had to realize that, confess it, decide to change it.  I asked the Lord to help me.  I wanted to depend on Him for help.  I found support from some friends that have walked a similar road.  And I had to resolve to take a step onto a path that was about having a right relationship with the Lord.  Not about losing weight.  Not about exercising or winning a race.  Not even about being healthy.  I would trade every one of those things if I needed to do that to make the Lord my priority and to have a more intimate relationship with Him.  Thankfully, I don't have to choose one or the other.  I just have to choose perspective...  I get to choose the state of my heart.  My motive.

Over the course of the last year and a half I worked hard to lose about 45 lbs.  In the last several months I have  decidedly not worked to lose any more weight but instead I have worked maintain the weight that I am at and to find contentment in this place.  To enjoy life and to eat in a way that I feel good about.  I have succeeded at that, for the most part.  I have more weight that I could lose, but I am not going to commit to working hard at that until I can do it with the right motives.

I am okay with that, and that is part of the reason that I know that I am "okay".

So... back to the running thing...

In the fall, my sister Emily had just had a baby and asked if all of the siblings and their spouses on our side of the family would like to join her in January in running a 5K.  It was going to be a race.  We'd all put $10 in a pot and the boy & girl winner would take all.  I think it was her hope that signing up for a race would motivate her to get back into shape after having her baby.  (Well, it worked... stay tuned!)  I thought that that sounded like a good idea.  I wanted to encourage her, spend time with my siblings, and (dun dun dun) start exercising more.  I probably wouldn't have chosen running, but I figured I could pull this off.

I loaded the "Couch To 5K" app to my phone and committed to running a 5K with my siblings in January.

The first day of running/ walking was not too bad. I was like, "This will be easy... I can do this!"

Then, came the second day.  It was hard!

I panicked!

I was totally and completely scared to death at the thought of having to run a 5K.  And so, I knew that I had no choice at all except to do it.

Starting in the fall, I trained 3-4 times a week with the exception of Christmas to New Years and one week that I was sick.  I read about what to eat, what shoes to wear, laid of sodas, and I got myself prepared.  I was feeling really good about myself.  I'd done all that I could do.

The day before the race I started to panic a little.  What if I was the slowest sibling?  What if I was the absolute last person in the race?  What if I couldn't finish the race?  What if I embarrassed myself?   

I quickly found that I had to put my thoughts in order.  I had to remember what my motivation was.  I had to run this race against myself and no one else.  For my reasons and no one else's.  

So, on the morning of the race I was excited.  A little nervous but happy that I was there.  Happy that I had made the choice to do something healthy and good.  Happy that I was facing my fear.  It was an absolute blast to be at the race with my 3 siblings and 3 of my in-laws all in our matching light blue "Selke Sibs" shirts.  As the race approached, I got butterflies.  The announcer had the 2000 racers all pumped up and ready to run.  My music was blasting in my ears, and I was feeling good...  I got tears in my eyes as I thought about the journey that the Lord and I have been on through the last couple of years and how we had ended up there, together, on this perfect January morning.

Then the buzzer blasted, and we were off.

Almost instantly, the 7 of us Selke Sibs separated.  We all ran at the pace that we were comfortable with.  I was running well and feeling fine.  A little ways in, I looked to my left and there was my sister Sara!  I was shocked because she had hurt her knee the week before, and she was planning to walk the 5K.  But there she was, jogging along.  We ran side by side, and after a bit I was sure that I was going to need to walk.  She walked with me up the hill then ran with me when I decided to run again.  It didn't take long before I realized I was not going to run as fast as I had hoped I would.  I started to cry.  Every part of my body was burning, and I was so mad that after all that training I was not going to beat the people in my family that hadn't trained as much.  I looked ahead of me and saw women twice my age, people double my size, and people pushing strollers... and I was mad!  For a few minutes, I lost my focus.  All I could think about was the pain and the disappointment.  Then, I remembered why I was doing this.  Who I was doing it for.  My goal had been to do my best, and I was.  My goal was to face my fear, and I was.  My goal was to set a baseline time for myself, and I was.  So, I changed the course of my thoughts and decided to remember that this was just a race...  I had to remember my goals.  That is what was important.  I had to get my heart in check.  I asked the Lord to help me remember my reasons why I was doing this and help me not get distracted by all the other junk for the rest of the race.  From then on, I would set a goal... At the stop sign I will start running.... I will not stop until the other side of the bridge...  And my always-by-my-side sister was right there beside me the entire time.  She was there when I lost my will and my composure, when I begged Jesus to help me keep going, when I cried because I thought the 3 Mile marker was the 3K marker (and that I still had 2K left to go), and when I realized that I was wrong and that the finish line was only a few feet away.

Once I could see the finish line, I was able to kick it into high gear and sprint through the finish line.  I ran past Corey & all of my siblings who had already finished the race and were cheering us on, and the host of the race announced my name as I ran through the inflated finish line.

I had made it!

I turned around and watched Sara cross the finish line.  She ran toward me and gave me a hug.  And I think we both knew that we had done more than run 5 kilometers.

It was a great feeling... for about 5 seconds... And then I thought I was going to throw up.  ;)  Corey held on to me, and I walked behind some big trucks just in case I did.  And just about as fast as the feeling came, it left.  We walked back to my huddle of family, and we all reveled in the fact that WE DID IT!  We celebrated with oranges and Clif bars, took some photos, and called it a day.  We had 11 kids to get home to.

And that sister that just had a baby 4 months ago... she was the winning girl of the Selke Sibs.  I was so proud of her!  I am proud of all of us.  It's no easy feat to be the mid-life parents of a bunch of adorable kiddos.  Taking the time to exercise, set goals, and actually get away for a couple of hours to do something together is quite complicated.  Thankfully, my kids and our parents helped make it possible on that day.

When it was all said and done, we 7 Selke Siblings all felt inspired (and really sore).  And I'm pretty sure we will all do it again sooner than later.

In fact, Emily & I have already signed up to do it again in a month.  At that race my goal is to beat the time that I had at yesterday's race, to stay focused and not have a breakdown in the middle of the race, and to keep my priorities rightly defined.

But for today, my goal is to walk standing up straight - not all hunched over like I want to - and to go for a walk on the neighborhood trail.

And tomorrow?  My goal is to do that again... without ibuprofen. 

1 comment:

  1. I just read this for the first time and cried. I was so proud of you that day and the year and a half before that and every day since then. I am looking forward to running with you on Sunday and again next month for Corey's bday. I love you!!!


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